Cheaper is not the solution

August 2013 Access Control & Identity Management, Access Control & Identity Management, Healthcare (Industry)

The Department of Infrastructure Development is a government organisation tasked with maintaining hospitals and clinics in the East Rand and their allied support structures. In the process of its work, the heads of the various departments raised concerns about the issue of access and attendance of staff on these sites.

Due to the size of DID’s workforce, it had difficulty in controlling who was entering customers’ premises and when. The company also felt that staff may not be adhering to the terms of their employment contracts as far as working hours were concerned. This led it to investigate the possibility of a system which would help alleviate the situation.

DID already had an Impro IXP400i system functioning in its regional offices in Springs, which meets its needs adequately. However, it decided to purchase a biometric system along with a proximity solution that was inexpensive and would perform the function required.

The pilot site has multiple departments in different buildings where staff have staggered shifts, to manage this the DID realised a biometric system would be necessary to ensure the correct staff member was at his/her work station at their pre-allocated shifts.

Starting with the laundry site where there was no previous system, the DID installed a Soyal proximity and biometric system on the recommendation of its supplier and installer. The product crashed soon after installation and the installer was unable to rectify the problem. The benefits the system was supposed to deliver, including price and technical support, failed to materialise.

Based on the total failure of the system, DID decided to change its access control system to the proven Impro brand, supplied by Powell Tronics. This change is currently in the specification and pricing stage, however, Impro has been identified as the route the company will follow.

“We are already aware of what we can expect from the Impro system, based on the units we have in other centres,” says J. Ebsworth, Control Electrical Inspector of Works. “At this stage, we will not follow the route of installing biometrics, but will in all likelihood, consider the option at a later stage. The solid, reliable performance of the Impro system has been noted and is therefore our preferred system.”

It has been an expensive lesson in attempting to follow the cheaper route. Future decisions will be based on proof of current successful sites, along with contact details of these sites to confirm performance. The organisation will also visit existing sites to form a better opinion of performance to establish suitability.

“In summary, the existing experience has left us with a clear vision of what we should, and should not be doing in this field,” says Ebsworth. “We were too easily led astray, by visions of how certain products perform, instead of obtaining professional advice along with verified case studies.”

For more information contact Powell Tronics, +27 (0)11 234 6990,,


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